By Macdonald Ayang, February 9, 2017
Cameroon Journal, Yaounde – President Paul Biya has again asked that all Cameroonians live together in harmony and patriotism no matter which part of the country they come from.
He made the remark yesterday afternoon as he addressed players and team officials of the national football squad at State House.
Seizing on the victory of the national team in this year’s African Cup of Nations, the President said it was the spirit of unity and patriotism that propelled the team to grab the coveted trophy and that it was not about where one comes from. “The message you have shown is clear; that whether you are from the North or South, East or West, you are first and above anything else, Cameroonians. Whether you are called Moukandjo, Ondoa, Ngadeu, Aboubakar, Bassogog, Fai or Ndip Tambe, you are first and foremost Cameroonians” Biya stated.
The president, in his address, also praised the Lions for their exploits which he said have made the entire nation so proud of them. He congratulated the coach Hugo Broos and his crew members on their dedication and determination to reap victory at all cost. Biya also extended words of appreciation to the president and people of Gabon for what he described as a successful hosting of the continental flagship event.
The ceremony proper
Yesterday’s reception of the Indomitable Lions unfolded in the presence of all government ministers, members of the diplomatic corps and other heads of public institutions.
The brief but symbolic ceremony which was punctuated with several scenes of humour lasted a little just over an hour. It all began with the trophy presentation to the Head of State and First Lady before a series of handshakes led by Sports and Physical Education Minister, Bidoung Mkpatt, who sent the hall cracking with laughter when he staged a remake of his famous ‘Bidoung Challenge’ gesture before walking to the Head of State.
The players, led by their captain, Benjamin Moukandjo, then filed past, greeting the President and a visibly elated First Lady.
Team captain, Moukandjo, in reply to the Head of State, began by thanking the presidential couple for making it possible for them to be received at the country’s premier palace. He said hard work, unity and focus are the values that summarise their triumph in Gabon. He pledged that the squad would continue in like manner so as not to let the country down in subsequent international competitions.
To the over 22 million Cameroonian football fans, the 29-year-old captain expressed the team’s gratitude for the encouragement, and pleaded that same support be shown them even in difficult times when they don’t win.
The players and team officials were also awarded medals of honour by the president.
The ride around the capital city
After the Unity Palace event, the Lions then embarked on a heavily guarged caravan ride around the city of Yaoundé, in a bid to show the newly won trophy to fans. Thousands of the fans lined up the streets as the Lions, standing on open air smart military vehicles, waved at them throughout the city-wide ride.
The victorious Indomitable Lions team landed in the nation’s capital on Monday to a hero’s welcome by thousands of fans that showed up at the Nsimalen international airport to receive them.
A chattered Camair-co plane carrying the players and officials touched down at the airport at about 4: 04 pm where top government officials including the Ministers of Communication, Transport and Youth Affairs and Civic Education, were on hand to welcome them.
The Indomitable Lions on Sunday night had come from behind to beat Egypt 2-1 in dramatic fashion to lift the 2017 Africa cup of nations’ trophy.